School of Rock - The Musical scores an "A" in Austin

The cast of the School of Rock tour that is now playing at Bass Concert Hall in Austin. (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

Attention, musical theater fans. School of Rock – The Musical is now in session at Austin’s Bass Concert Hall.

If you remember the 2003 movie starring Jack Black, you already know the plot. A down-and-out, wanna-be rock star masquerades as a substitute teacher to scrape together rent money. He ends up at a posh, private school full of high-performing but disaffected 10-year-olds. Their uptight parents are too busy, too demanding, too oblivious – too whatever – to hear their problems or be involved in their lives, so he channels their angst through amps and guitars with a secret plan to win a Battle of the Bands contest and work his own way back into the rock and roll spotlight.

At the beginning of the show, a recorded message from Andrew Lloyd Webber says, “The most asked question is: do the kids really play the instruments? The answer is an emphatic ‘yes!’” And these kids do indeed rock, especially lead guitarist Zack (Phoenix Schuman), whose rock riffs deservedly put him in the spotlight. He gets great support from sassy bassist Katie (Theodora Silverman), too cool for school drummer Freddy (Gilberto Moretti-Hamilton), and fast-fingered keyboardist Lawrence (Theo Mitchell-Penner).

The show scores because everyone involved seems to be having a great time. From start to finish Dewey (Rob Colletti) maintains an infectious high energy while he teaches the kids how to melodically “Stick it to the Man.” Colletti infuses the Jack Black persona into the role with charm. The show saves two strong voices for the second act: Lexie Dorsett Sharp as the school Principal lets down her hair and nostalgically wonders “Where Did the Rock Go?” and shy Tomika (Gianna Harris) finally summons the courage to belt out a beautiful a cappella version of “Amazing Grace.”

All in all, School of Rock –The Musical delivers a rock-solid performance that is great for the whole family.

School of Rock -- The Musical is part of the Lexus Broadway in Austin series and is presented by Texas Performing Arts. It runs through Sunday, February 18 at Bass Concert Hall.

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